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Why I'm here

I never planned on being a writer, but I also never planned on being the mother of an autistic child. I want to write about this experience in a public blog, rather than a personal journal, because I believe that some of the questions I ask as I try to grow within myself while doing right by my child are questions asked by other parents of children with special needs. The feeling of "yes, I think/feel that too" provides powerful strength to those of us trying to make sense of this journey. I want to explore the challenge of wanting to help my child get "better" while also helping  her celebrate her identity. What does it mean to call her autism a disability? What does it mean to reject that label in favor of neurodiversity? Why, even when I want to embrace the second label wholeheartedly, do I continue to wish she weren't so obviously different? When am I helping her to broaden her own expression of a meaningful life, and when am imposing my needs and wishes on her?

I would love to connect with other parents and also with adults who live with neurological differences. I would like to create a space to dialogue about cure vs identity and about how we think about a meaningful life. If this is blog is successful, I hope I will have given myself the confidence and connections to write a book consisting of interviews with parents.

Hello world!

As many of you know, Carolyn's current obsession is political geography and the flags, statistics, borders and languages of every country. So about two weeks ago she asked her (beloved) science teacher if she would get a zero on her next test if she took it in a foreign language. He laughed at her joke and said that he would not give her a zero. Then this weekend I was going through her backpack and found the most recent test. Despite having studied, she scored 3/10 on the multiple choice. I was bewildered--until I studied the test and all of the no-brainers she had answered incorrectly. Scrawled at the top was the key. She had taken the multiple choice in Hungarian: A=A, but Á=B, B=C and C=D. These are the first four characters of the Hungarian alphabet. The only answers she got correctly were the ones needing an A. She had no D's as answers, but you had to look at the code to understand why.
Short end to the story. The teacher wants to regrade it despite my saying that it's not his obligation. Carolyn thinks her answers were quite funny, and she's completely unconcerned about the grade. I'm struggling with all sorts of emotions: I think it was pretty funny myself, but of course it's my obligation to be mortified if I want her to get into a good high school. In fact, I asked her almost immediately what language she was using on her ISATs. Should I be mortified? Should I care at all? Should I be concerned that she doesn't care? She's certainly not buying into the achievement pressures portrayed in a "Race to Nowhere."  Guess that's life with a non-neurotypical kid.